Siranush Sahakyan has resigned from the office of Chair of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials
In January 2014, when I assumed the office of Chair of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials of the Republic of Armenia, I fully realized that development of a newly set system was an intricate and responsible task. I was also convinced that in a short term (four years) and with limited resources the pledge of success could be only professionalism, honesty, boundless diligence and teamwork.
After a large-scale legislative reform of 2017-2018, a strong and integrated corruption prevention system became a reality. Prevention of corruption, as the main direction of the fight against corruption, was institutionalized with the necessary infrastructure and tools. New legislative solutions have created proper prerequisites for the financial transparency of public officials, investigation of corruption crimes through declaration analysis, as well as management and prevention of conflict of interests.
These consistent efforts were rewarded by specialized international organizations and also served as a basis for ambitious recommendations for further improvement of the system.
However, the prospect of continuity of the reforms also required steps to be undertaken in the shortest terms, including formation of an autonomous state body-Corruption Prevention Commission in consistent with constitutional regulations, launch of control mechanisms regarding the maintenance of restrictions imposed on officials, collection and analysis of new declarations with data revealing illicit enrichment, as well as strengthened cooperation with law enforcement bodies. By virtue of law, the extended powers of the Commission would have to ensure the smooth transformation of the institutional system.
Nevertheless, the problems intrinsic to transition remained unsolved:
• The Corruption Prevention Commission, provided by law, has not been established. Furthermore, in apparent disregard of the requirements of law, the competition for the selection of candidates of new members was neither organized nor held.
• On 1st January 2019, the content of the declarations was altered. Accordingly, previous legislative regulations relating to declarations lost their effect. New declaration forms have not been confirmed by the Government, since they had to be proposed by the Corruption Prevention Commission. In addition, from January 1st, 2019, the declarations are to be submitted to the Corruption prevention commission and not to the Ethics commission, namely to a non-existent body.
• In spite of the arrangements reached with concerned international stakeholders, the electronic declaration system has not been modernized to incorporate the new legislative regulations.
• Even though incompatibility requirements regarding various public officials (members of parliament, government, judges, etc.) have entered into force at legislative and constitutional levels, by-law mechanisms controlling their maintenance are not being put into practice because of the fact that the new body has not been established.
Concerns raised by international organizations on the aforementioned issues, as well as the steps taken by the Commission to overcome them have also been neglected.
The current situation is incompatible with my personal approach to professional activity and my sense of responsibility towards the solutions of on-going issues. Thus, from today, I am resigning from my post at the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my local and international colleagues, who supported the advancement of corruption prevention system in Armenia with their encouragement, goodwill and teamwork. By their great efforts they have shared the burden of responsibility and have been part of the recorded accomplishments.
In my further activities, I will continue to be guided by my slogan: "Remain faithful to ideas, regardless of status".
Siranush Sahakyan 05.02.2019
Chair of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials